The idea to getting stuck in traffic when you could otherwise get first tracks on fresh powder is frustrating and not fun at all. So what about arriving in resort without having to worry about your transportation?
Since January it has again been possible to reach the base of Winter Park resort directly from Denver by train. This is the way that Denver locals used to reach the slopes for decades throughout the 20th century and even the early ‘noughties’ before the service was cut. Now fully re-launched after a few test re-runs in the 2015-16 season sold out in hours, you can just jump onboard the Winter Park Express in your ski gear as soon as you get off the plane.
“There’s no other mode of transportation needed: You can just grab your skis, hop on the lift and you’re skiing within minutes,” says Steve Hurlbert, Winter Park’s director of communications. “You’re also steps from the rental shop if needed.”
In the newly renovated Union Station – one of Denver’s most iconic historic landmarks – you can get food and drinks before heading to the resort.
If you want and overnight stay after arriving in Denver but before heading out to Winter Park, the brand new Crawford Hotel is also located inside of the 120-year-old station and offers an “evolved luxury experience.” It is surreal to see people in ski gear milling around in the lobby of one of the most beautiful hotels in the city, mixing with commuters early in the morning in central Denver!
The train can seat up to 550 people but it is so popular it’s important to book your tickets for this historic train trip in advance – it is common for the train to be fully booked. As an added incentive the early bird price is $39/one way.
For its first season the Winter Park Express operated a round trip every Saturday and Sunday leaving Denver at 7am and departing Winter Park for the return leg at 4:30pm. Operating times for next winter ae likely to be similar or identical but are yet to be confirmed.
My Ride On The Winter Park Express
And here we go, The Winter Park Express slowly rolled out of Union Station at 7am as the pink sunrise began to overtake the sky, for its 56 mile journey – up 4,000 feet and through 29 tunnels – including the 6.2-mile-long Moffat Tunnel, which goes under the Continental Divide. The two hour journey is enough to get breakfast, relax and enjoy the Colorado scenery and as we got closer gear up, put on my ski boots and get ready for the slopes!
Arriving in Winter Park’s we could enjoy doorstep skiing, walking straight from the train on to the ski lift. We were staying on in resort, but if you are going back to Denver the same day as many Denverites do, you can leave shoes and belongings on the train while you enjoy uncrowded slopes.
I was lucky to be visiting in January when the resort was in its best shape of the winter so far, after big storms earlier in the season and historic snowfalls were recorded in Colorado, meaning superb on piste conditions. The resort is split in to several ski areas offering different types of skiing and options for all. From wide open slopes to tree lines run and the gnarliest of moguls, it’s a great resort.